Governor Newsom Signs Bills to Fight California’s Homeless Crisis

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California is in the midst of the worst homeless crisis ever faced, with thousands living on the streets in inhumane conditions. Some calculations place more than a quarter of all homeless people in America as residing in California, and the crisis only continues to worsen. 

California Governor Newsom has signed 13 new laws into effect that will allow cities and counties to expedite the process of building new homeless shelters and supportive housing. Newsom has said the bills will go towards giving “local governments even more tools to confront” the homeless crisis. 

The bills he signed include several that lift environmental regulations, which will aid in speeding up the construction of homeless shelters. Another will allow the California Department of Transportation lease property to local governments at a cost of $1 per month for emergency shelters. 

One unique law included in the 13 is that of AB 1188, which will allow a tenant and landlord to override an existing lease agreement and let a person in danger of being homeless move into their unit. The bill will allow landlords to increase the rent as part of the agreement but will continue to be governed by existing tenant-landlord law. Tenants will be able to use this new process from 2020 to 2024. 

In 2017, a law was passed that permitted the counties of Berkeley, Emeryville, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Santa Clara, and San Francisco to declare emergencies and build shelters on publicly owned land. One of the newly signed bills will now add Orange and Alameda counties to this list, along with San Jose. 

“Supportive housing and shelters aren’t being built quickly enough and as long as Californians are struggling to survive in our streets, we have a moral responsibility to do everything in our power to provide the shelter and assistance they need to get back on their feet,” Assemblyman and Los Angeles Democrat, Miguel Santiago said in a statement.

This push for legislation that equips the state to combat the homeless crisis is accompanied by a $1 billion allocation in the California budget aimed at helping homeless people. More than 60 % of this goes towards bolstering local governments efforts in building new shelters and developing programs aimed at getting people off the streets. The remainder of the funds is going towards expanding mental health programs and a variety of other measures in helping reduce California’s homeless population. 

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